by Rick K. and "Burn" for webBikeWorld.com
Buttery soft leather is so pliable, the gloves feel like second skin.
Lightweight and very comfortable, the Falco Podium gloves could easily become and all-time favorite.
The concept of value is interesting and complex. To most people, value probably equates with the word "bargain" -- but that seems too simple
The psychology of value is complex and I'm as bamboozled by it as anyone.
The Falco Podium gloves are a good example of the complexity of the value equation. Somehow, I got it in my head that the gloves cost $359.90.
Yikes! If it were true, that would make them the most expensive pair of motorcycle gloves we ever reviewed by far -- and probably the most expensive motorcycle gloves in the world.
But, I had to overlook that -- have to stay neutral and unbiased, right? I didn't want the price to sway my opinion until I at least tried the gloves and formed an opinion.
However, the little voice in the back of my head was thinking "How in the world am I every going to explain this one? webBikeWorld visitors are going to think I'm nuts!".
Then after riding with them for a week or so, I thought "You know what? They might just be worth it". After all, the quality is excellent, they're so comfy and that leather -- I have never felt anything like it before. Like buttah. Only bettah.
"The leather", I thought. "That must be why they cost so much".
This went on for a couple of weeks of riding until I sat down to start the background work for this review, and I discovered that the actual list price of the Falco Podium gloves isn't $359.90. Not even close -- the list price is $120.00. Quite a difference, eh?
Which brings me back to that value equation. I honestly thought the gloves were worth the $359.90, and I was prepared to make an argument for buying them. Now that I find they're really only $120.00, I'm stunned.
$120.00 is still more than many will pay for a pair of motorcycle gloves. And I don't have objective data on how the Falco Podium gloves will perform when they're needed most -- in a crash.
But I can definitely say that the leather used in these gloves is different -- very different -- than any other motorcycle gloves I've worn. And I'll bet that over the last 10+ years that webBikeWorld has been online that I've worn more different types of gloves than just about anyone out there.
This is seriously good leather ladies and gentlemen -- if you equate smooth, soft, light weight and ultra-pliable with good. I do.
Most of the leather used in less-than-$125.00 or so motorcycle gloves is thick cowhide that usually takes some time to break in. In general, the thicker the leather, the more the hand is isolated from the feel of the bike through the handlebars.
Which is why some of the higher-end motorcycle glove manufacturers use kangaroo hide for the palms. Kangaroo is claimed to provide good or better abrasion resistance with less bulk, and pretty much all of the kangaroo palm gloves I've worn have excellent grip feel.
The leather used in the Falco Podium gloves feels so pliable it's almost like wearing rubber or silicone protective barrier gloves. It even squeaks like rubber. The Podium gloves need no break-in; they're as comfortable as anything right from the start.
The leather also has another interesting feature: it gets even more pliable as the gloves become warmer from my body temperature. I've noticed this especially if I take the gloves off and then put them right back on.
Falco, who takes its name from the owner, Gianni Falco, has been manufacturing boots in Italy since 1993 and they're now branching out into leather clothing and gloves.
All of the Falco boots are made in the Falco plant in Altivole, Italy, just northwest of Venice. This is the home of other firms that are familiar to motorcyclists, including Alpinestars, Forma, Gaerne, Sidi, StylMartin and TCX.
Falco products are available in Europe and distributed in North America by Advanced Motorcycle Gear, whose details are in the summary table below.
I'm not sure if the Podium gloves are made in Altivole, but they are labeled as "Made in the EU". The quality of this pair is excellent and they appear to be hand made, although a motorcycle glove is such a complex item that I'm sure most of them are hand-stitched.
I don't have very much technical information that might describe the construction of the Falco Podium gloves. They come in a wide range of sizes from XS to XXL, although this pair is slightly undersized. The Podium gloves shown here are size 11, equivalent to an XL. I usually take a size large, although I'm borderline L/XL, and these fit me perfectly. Like a glove!
I'll have to assume that the leather used in the Podium gloves comes from the usual suspects; that is, members of the Family Bovidae.
You'd never know it though if you have any experience at all with gloves containing kangaroo hide, and those gloves are usually more expensive than the average. Kangaroo (and goat hide) is soft and pliable also, but for sure the hide used in the Podium gloves really is something special.
Maybe that's why the hush-hush on the tech specs -- could there be a secret leather formula? The flexibility of the Podium gloves is probably also enhanced by the "pull up" of the hides used.
Pull up is a leather maker's term that "describes the behavior of leather that has been treated with oils, waxes, and dyes in such a way that when the leather is pulled or stretched ... the finish becomes lighter in the stretched areas. Considered a mark of high quality." (Irving Tanning Co. Leather Terms Glossary).
The stretching and working of the leather creates a thinner and finer weight per unit of area. This results in a weight of 138 grams (4-7/8 oz.) for a single Podium glove in size XL.
Stitching and Construction
I asked about the material used for the threads and Falco said that the stitching is a tear-resistant polyamide. There's more than leather in the Podium gloves also; they come with a Schoeller Keprotec With Kevlar brochure and it looks to me like the black hatched pattern material you see on the palms and first two fingertips is surely the Schoeller material with the Kevlar. This is expensive stuff, usually found on expensive gloves.
The brochure also mentions something about a "weatherproof" barrier with "active moisture vapour transmission" and the use of Cordura Dynafil TS-70 somewhere. These are vaguely familiar names to motorcyclists because these materials and more are commonly used for protection and abrasion resistance in our garments.
The liner uses some of these synthetic materials, and it's a thin liner that's hardly noticeable.
The stitching is very finely done and unlike many other race-style gloves, my fingers and hands do not get chafed by loose threads or seams inside the gloves -- it feels very smooth inside.
The fingertips are slightly unusual, with a wider "floor", two tapering "walls" and a tapered "roof" at the tips. They taper down towards the front just enough to reduce bulk but not so much that my fingers feel cramped. The rest of the fingers have a generous amount of room without becoming bulky.
In addition to the synthetic material mentioned above that is used on the palms, the Podium gloves have a large matrix of tufted leather sections on the heel of the hand. These are very obvious in the photos of the palm.
This section carries over into a small flap that covers the wrist strap, and it continues up the outside of the hand where it wraps around the lower portion of the pinky finger. Three padded leather pillows also protect that finger.
The outer seams on this section and the seams on the synthetic palm protecting material are double-stitched, as is the main knuckle protector and the wrist gauntlet. The gauntlet is sort of a "gauntlet-and-a-half"; it doesn't fully wrap twice around the wrist, which I find to be somewhat overkill anyway and sometimes clumsy.
The gauntlet is adequately sized for fitting over a jacket sleeve and the wrist strap can be cinched up tight, providing the security necessary to keep the gloves from flying off in a crash.
But if offers good protection and it features generous padding over the top and outside of the wrist. The aforementioned main knuckle protectors and the three first knuckle protectors that are seen as chromed domes are made from some type of polymer material (I think) and chrome plated. I think.
The main knuckle protector is very comfortable -- I don't really even feel that it's there. This is due to a combination of the so-soft leather and the armor design.
Vents between the first and second knuckles are positioned under those rubbery-feeling bumpers that seem to be appearing on every race glove around lately.
The vents are backed by the thin lining material, but I definitely feel air coming through when riding a motorcycle without a fairing to block the straight-on wind. The leather in between the fingers is perforated, and combined with the knuckle vents, the Falco Podium gloves offer better ventilation than most other leather race gloves I've tried.
The fingers also have gathered material over the first knuckles towards the fingertips, which gives the gloves added flexibility.
OK, so here's a treat. We normally don't produce a video of gloves, because videos take a huge amount of time to create, but we couldn't resist for the Falco Podium gloves. Our hope is that the video will give you some idea of the flexibility and suppleness of the leather used by Falco.
I really like the Falco Podium gloves, as you can tell. The leather does it for me; it is probably the highest quality leather I've ever felt in any leather garment, street or bike. I think $120.00 for these is a reasonable price.
From "D.L." (5/10): "I visit your site often to get reviews of gear and misc motorcycle items and was very impressed by the review of the Falco Podium gloves. I bought myself a pair from Advanced Motorcycle, but have had an entirely different experience with them.
First, the pair I received had the right thumb significantly shorter than the left. It's to a point that I can't fully grip the entire handlebar, as it the right thumb is too short. This also is a problem as a lot more vibrations are transmitted to my right hand than before, as the leather is always in tension. I know humans aren't fully symmetrical, but I have never had this problem on the 10+ gloves I have tried on before.
Second, the rubber lining on the inside palm of the glove are not sewn symmetrically. One side has the rubber texture starting nearly 1 cm higher than the other glove. This isn't as much of an issue as I feel is a sign of low quality control.
I have had the gloves for 3 months, and ride quite often; the Velcro, which used to be very very strong, is nearly worn out. The side that has the texture where the hooks catch has been stretched out. It has gotten to a point where unless I push it down very hard, the Velcro will detach in the wind halfway through my ride.
The perforation of the gloves on the side of the fingers works well to flow air, but has weakened the integrity of the glove. I had that area rip on me, and the hole has gotten larger in the last month.
Just a note, I don't have anything against the gloves, I told everyone who asked me why I was buying them that they were highly rated in a review. It wasn't until after I noticed all these issues that I feel the review may not have had enough time with the gloves, or it was possible the pair I received, or webBikeWorld received may not be representative of the entire line.
Just giving my experience with them, thanks for the reviews!"
Editor's Note: It's important to contact the retailer immediately if there is a problem with the product. You may still want to contact Advanced Motorcycle to see if there's anything they can do to resolve your problems.
From "M.D." (1/10): "I just read your review on the Falco gloves...and I am shaking my head with a big YES!
I am a club racer and sponsored by Advanced Motorcycle Gear. When Todd from Advance got me a set of gloves to try I was really please with the fit and finish. Then I rode with them...they are RAD! They are so nice to use, like you're wearing nothing, they kinda remind me of Kushitani's.
they also have the best venting I have ever had in a glove. I even had the pleasure of low-siding in them and they held up great. I am glad to see Falco and Advanced getting some much need props! Thanks.